Local branch finally closed last night, another area branch the day before.
I couldn't believe how bare the shelves were, even considering the 50 to 80%
discounts. Grabbed a few bargains, but it definitely sucks to see the stores
gone. They had some older guys working there who knew their stuff and
Losing a job is always sad. Good luck with your future.
The Norwich store was OK but I hardly ever got down that way. I hope the
Auburn MA store re-opens under a new name and better setup. It wad dingy,
cluttered, and not inviting at all.
I was told that it will probably be a year or so before a new one
opens in Auburn. At least that is, for the new ones of the Western
Tool Supply chain. Who knows who else might be lurking out there? :o)
No not really. Woodworkers Warehouse is dead...totally. However, the
fellow who was my area manager has set up a partnership of some kind
with the guy who owns a string of stores in the northwest called
Western Tool Supply. He plans on opening around 11 stores right away
with hopefully 30 in all within a year or so. There won't be one in
Manchester as far as I know. What I was told was that the first ones
would be in Old Saybrook, Ct., Hyannis, Mass., and Port Chester, NY.
Also about 8 other locations that I wasn't told specifically which
ones. I believe he kind of took a look at the top performing stores in
the WWW operation and is trying to obtain the leases of those former
WWW stores. Some he got and some he wasn't able to get.
We'll see how this goes. I sincerely hope it all works out!
You've got to be kidding me. Port Chester was one of the top performing
stores??? I used to go in there once in a while. As often as not, I'd
be the only customer in there. Sometimes there would be one or two
other customers. Hard to see how they made any money at all with that
kind of traffic.
There's no doubt Port Chester has the potential to be a good location.
Between Westchester (NY) and Fairfield (CT) counties, you're probably
looking at the two highest per-capita income counties in the US. The
store is 2 minutes off the interstate, and right next to a Home Depot
(which serves to attract people to the location, but doesn't really
compete for the same business). And for all that, the store was empty
most of the time.
DId you ever notice how few of the products carried by Woodworker's
Warehouse were carried by BORGs? You could hit an Orange BORG with a
rock from the Wallingford, CT WWW store as well, but the Wallingford
store did a terrific business.
The Manchester, CT WWW store was across the street from a very well
run Woodcraft. After a few visits to both, it was obvious that even
those two stores had a lot of product that didn't overlap.
Years ago, I wrote an article for Pop. Wodoworking that I don't think ever ran.
Mail Order woodworking stores. At that time, I wasn't too surprised to find
that each store had its niche. Rockler, for example, doesn't carry any large
power tools--and not many small ones--but carries a LOT of hardware. Lee Valley
was smaller then (they all were, except Trend-Lines), with a smaller selection,
but had a really solid rep for great customer service and good tools. Woodcraft
had the largest selection of carving and turning tools of the general
woodworking mailorder houses. Still does, I think. Also the largest selection
of books, while Rockler emphasized plans.
There is plenty of overlap, but plenty that doesn't overlap. If properly run,
it would probably be possible to make a liviing with a Rockler store within a
few blocks of a Woodcraft, and vice versa, if the overall market were large
enough. I think Woodcraft has until recently insisted on 350,000 as a base for
their franchises, though I know they're about to open a Roanoke, VA store,
after opening an Albany, NY store last month. Two great small cities (each is
about 95-100,000) by the way, though Albany feeds a larger market
(Troy-Schenectady-Scotia-Latham-Colonie and more).
"Take care of the luxuries and the necessities will take care of themselves."
Anyone else unsatisfied with the new Woodcraft in Albany? The sales
associates have a serious lack of effort and general disinterest in helping
out customers. Am I alone in this thinking? With the WW gone its a real
shame that Woodcraft is the only place left. I was pretty excited when they
came into town but after a few miserable visits in there, I don't even want
to enter the door.
I'm not privy to any documented info on this, but other managers and
middle manager types have told me that research showed that when WW
stores were placed near the Borgs, they did very well. Even better
than the ones which were situated far away from a Borg. (if that's
possible anymore nowadays! LOL)
I was told they felt it was the knowledge of the WW staff in addition
to the items we carried that the Borg didn't. Folks would go into the
Borg and find a young kid working there who didn't even know what a
sawhorse was. So they went to the WW and found an older staff who
(hopefully) actually knew what they were talking about.
Well anyway, that's what I was told. And it makes sense to me in view
of my own visits to my local Borg. Geez, there was a fellow in there
who was asking the clerk how you rip with a SCMS. The clerk was
fiddling around the saw and couldn't figure it out! Gee...no kidding.
Finally he said, "I dunno, there must be SOME way to rip with it! I
shook my head and explained to the hapless customer about the saw,
There were many times that the WW staff would send customers to the
Borg for things they didn't carry, which I always considered good
business. You have to appreciate someone that would rather send you
somewhere else than try to sell you something inappropriate.
We were doing that daily. There was always someone coming in that was
looking for lumber or hardware that we didn't carry. Also contractor's
items like ladders, pump jacks, pickup racks, etc etc. It was easy
because I know every store around and what they carry and I could send
the customer to the right place for whatever it was they wanted that
we didn't carry. Also like you said, send them to some place that had
something more suited to what they wanted to do rather than sell them
something that woul do a sub-par job or not even work at all. And we
got lot's of thanks from folks who appreciated the honesty on where
the best place was to go and obtain what they were looking for.
Over in Warwick, RI, where the WW was just up the road from Woodcraft,
they used to send customers to each other's stores for items
carried/not carried by each other. You're right again...it's just
good business building a huge amount of good will I think.
Man, I sure miss that job already!
Guarantee he won't be dropping one into the Albany NY area. We just got a
brand new Woodcraft store just as the WWW was folding, and it's within
spittin' distance of the WWW location. Plus there's several new Lowe's
stores popping up around here, and a Home Depot in my town, which has a
population of about 15,000.
I don't feel bad at all. The last time I was in one of these places I looked at
a PC sander. I picked it up to feel the heft, and then asked to plug it in to
get the feel and sound level before purchasing it. They refused saying it was
agains't store policy. I explained that I had purchased a sander in the past
that is very loud and did not wish to make the same mistake. They still
refused. I put it back on the shelf and told them that they, and the sander,
should have a long and happy life together.
A few weeks later I was in the chicago area where I visited Berlands House of
Tools. The prices in here are not for the faint of heart. However, I was
looking for the sander and a couple of other pieces. They had suggestions; they
took the tools over to a bench, put up some scrap wood, threw on a disk, and let
me go at it. Same thing with a Metabo scraper. I walked out with the ROS. A
friend with me also bought a belt sander. We decided agains't the Metabo.
Service does make a difference!
I will return to Berlands and I won't miss Woodworkers Warehouse.
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